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007 One by One: Live and Let Die

Final Musings: Producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman not only wanted Roger Moore for Connery’s one-film hiatus (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), but also for (shock!) Bond’s very first outing, “Dr. No.” Steeped in TV work, Moore was unavailable on either occasion, presumably due to “The Saint” TV series, and possibly also “The Persuaders.” Shades of Pierce Brosnan and “Remington Steele”?

Moore is fantastic in “Live and Let Die,” and unlike George Lazenby before him, was able to go the distance and help prove there was plenty of life left in James Bond without Connery. His performance differs from the word go, when Bond is introduced in his flat, bedding agent Caruso: M pays a visit, and Bond is visibly nervous that his boss might discover the hootchie-coo bedroom antics. (Connery might’ve just offered M his sloppy seconds.)

After that it’s Bond’s incongruous journey through Harlem featuring all manner of classic bits, such as the goofy-yet-perfect moment of Bond purchasing a stuffed snake in a voodoo shop – he requests it to be gift-wrapped “lengthwise.” Eventually Bond meets Mr. Big, Tee Hee, and Solitaire, and the writing is on the wall: He’s going to steal the babe from the bad guys, foil their plans and make everything right. But does he?

It’s possible – probable even – that James does not do entirely right by Solitaire. She was born into who she is and he fails to consider (or even care about) her family ties to Kananga. He steals her away from the only life she’s ever known, takes her virginity (along with her only sense of self), and presumably sends her packing after the end credits roll. One can’t help but wonder where Solitaire ended up after parting ways with James Bond. She appeared ill equipped to deal with American culture and had zero social skills; everything she’d ever been about was ripped away due to this intrusive figure that romanced, seduced, and eventually tossed her aside.

Content - Solitaire in Live and Let Die

A sense of flawed pathos often hounds James Bond, and there’s frequently more to these movies than meets the eye. Dig deeper than the surface allows: Has “Live and Let Die” set up a central character more complex than the thuggish rogue who preceded him?

Stray Bullets:

The racist caricature redneck Cajun sheriff J. W. Pepper (Clifton James) was bafflingly beloved enough to be brought back in the next film, “The Man with the Golden Gun.”

Content - Sheriff Pepper in Live and Let Die

The first Bond movie since “Goldfinger” not filmed in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

This is the only Bond film from “From Russia with Love” to “The World Is Not Enough” to not feature Desmond Llewelyn as Q.

The first Bond flick to use the word “shit.”

Cigarettes and martinis are – for now – a thing of the past. Bond smokes a cigar and drinks bourbon.

In the film’s third act, Bond wields a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum. “Dirty Harry” had been released two years earlier.

David Hedison co-stars as Felix Leiter. Until Jeffrey Wright’s modern spin on Leiter, Hedison was the only actor to portray the character more than once. He would return to the series in 1989’s “Licence to Kill,” giving the series a necessary sense of continuity.

Baron Samedi is an actual occult figure.

The famous crocodile stunt was performed by Ross Kananga five times. Speaking of Kananga, yes, the movie’s villain was named after him.

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